Citizens have become masters in new political setup
We have chosen State 5 outside the Kathmandu Valley for the first time for Gorkhapatra Sambad, the regular column of Gorkhapatra Daily and The Rising Nepal. This Sambad was conducted in the presence of Executive chairman of Gorkhapatra Corporation Krishna Murari Bhandari, consulting editor Gopal Khanal, Gorkhapatra Daily’s chief editor Shree Om Shrestha, The Rising Nepal’s chief editor Jagadish Pokhrel and news coordinator of Gorkhapatra Daily Gokarna Aryal, among others.
The country is under the phase of the federalism implementation. The three tier-governments –local, state and federal- are functioning. However, the state and local governments, two among the major bases of the federalism implementation, are not moving in the full pace according to the people’s aspirations due to its new practice and structure. In spite of this, the local and state governments are busy in formulating long-term strategy by beginning the feasibility study of their respective sectors.
The State has 12 districts and 109 local levels, and it is the second smallest state in terms of geography and the fourth largest state in terms of the number of local levels. The most parts of the State have the geography of Terai-Madhes and hills, besides its border adjoins mountain region as well.
The State has various tourist destinations, including Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, and the beautiful Dang Valley. The State joining a long border with India has two major customs points in Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj. The fourth largest State in terms of population has a lot of possibilities for its prosperity.
How are the local and State governments as well as private sectors moving ahead? Here are excerpts of interactions with Mayor of Butwal Sub-metropolis Shiva Raj Subedi, vice-chairman of State Planning Commission Dr. Prakash Shrestha and vice-chair of Butwal Chamber of Commerce and Industry Hari Aryal.
Butwal is formulating local curriculum of 100 marks: Subedi
How do you assess the achievements that you accomplished as a Mayor of the Butwal Sub-Metropolitan City?
We have envisioned the goal of ‘Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali’ after the country adopted the federal political system. We are firm in our policy to maximally utilise the natural resources and heritages of the country to achieve the goal. The country entered the federal political system because the previous political systems could not fulfill the responsibility to materailse prosperous Nepal and happy Nepali. Under the current political system, the citizens have become the masters themselves.
There are four important areas, especially for the development of Rupandehi district. These are tourism, agriculture, industry and trade. Among them, tourism sector could be the major basis for the development in the future. Since Butwal is the hub of trade centers, all castes and ethnicities, religions and cultures, it has a lot of opportunities. We are at the initial phase of the journey towards development.
Lack of coordination between the state and local levels is affecting the implementation of plans? What are your new plans for development?
There is no internal clash or the lack of coordination between the State government and Butwal Sub-Metropolitan City. The initial year was the year of study for us. First, we prepared unified master plans. We did it in coordination with the business and local originations. The development works run according to them. The old trend of distributing development budget as per the wish of lawmakers should be ended. Similarly, we are trying our best to push the development of education in a new way. Butwal Sub-Metropolitan City is busy formulating local curriculum of 100 marks. We have already discussed the matter with the experts. They have suggested framing the curriculum of moral education with local uniqueness.
Similarly, we are regulating the education sector in a way that it could generate employment itself. We have prepared a plan to engage 1,800 youths in the local labour market every year. We are devising a code of conduct to make Butwal violence-free. We appealed one and all to comply with the code of conduct and make it a violence-free city. Besides, we are prioritising the development of skill and entrepreneurship as well.
There are complaints that the lack of coordination among the federal, state and local governments has obstructed the construction of several important roads, including Belbas-Bethari and Belbas-Nuwakot. How do we believe your arguments that coordination is being made among the three-tier governments?
It is true that it was obstructed in the past. However, the construction work has begun after the budget allocation of Rs. 560 million for the road. We are working coordinating not only with the state government but also the federal government.
In some cases, the issue of corruption is raised. We, all good individuals, should correct some bad persons. Similarly, there is still a problem of land in the local level due to the lack of land-utility policy. There was no policy related to the land utility in history. The establishment of industry has become tough due to the rocketing price of private land. A public-private-partnership act is already in place. The act has created an atmosphere to work with the private sector.
What are the achievements accomplished by the Sub-Metropolitan City in the sector of infrastructure development in a year?
Altogether 28 earthen roads have been upgraded into gravel ones in the Sub-Metropolitan City. Similarly, around two kilometres of road have been made PCC, and nearly three kilometers of road have been black-topped and repaired in various Wards of Butwal.
Likewise, roads of around 5,000 metres have been black-topped under more than 460 medium and small projects that are being operated by consumers’ groups in all 19 wards. Similarly, the work of black-topping in around 8,000 meters-road under the road black-top project of more than Rs. 5 million run under the preconditioned donation of the federal government has already completed. It is very important.
A total of 27 culverts and 97 hume pipes have been constructed and the work on around 16000 metre drainages has been completed under the big, medium and small projects last year.
Some ward representatives have floated some projects for the development of their wards. Batauli Museum is being built at the lace of old municipality building in Ward No. 1 while Ward No. 1 and 2 are being developed as an archaeological settlement.
Similarly, the master plans for the construction of Janajati Museum at Hill Park and Tharu Museum at Motipur are being prepared. A special tourist destination will be built accommodating Narainapurdham of Semlaar and pond of the area connected with the story of Pashupatinath. A DPR is under formulation for constructing a view tower, park and wetland at Narenapur. The work of a wall construction is going on to preserve the park. A concept of setting up cable car has been floated in coordination with the private sector to develop Nuwakot and Basantpur as a hill station of Butwal.
We can make big leapt if we work hard: Shrestha
What are the plans of the State Planning Commission to make the State prosperous? What progress has been made in this direction so far?
The State Government has just completed its first year in office. We have prepared the concept paper of the first periodic plan. Discussion on the draft of the concept paper will complete by May 15. We have prepared this concept paper taking suggestions from private sector and other social organisations. We reached all 12 districts of the State to prepare the concept paper. We have made the real situation of the State public. We are actively working to make the State prosperous by utilising available natural resources, developing physical infrastructure and ensuring access of all people of the State to health and education.
The State Planning Commission is moving ahead by identifying 51 different sectors. This State is comparatively in better position in terms of agriculture than average condition of Nepal. We can make a big leapt if we work hard in this sector. Besides, we can support Karnali in the area of education and health sectors.
The State Planning Commission has a goal to reduce poverty to 10 per cent in five years. Now 24 per cent people in the State are below the poverty line. As such, your plan looks ambitious. How will you materialise this?
It is true that the State has set a target to reduce poverty to 10 per cent in five years. As per the population census of 2011, about 24.5 per cent of 4,499,000 population of the State is living below the poverty line.
However, it is estimated that the rate of poverty has declined by 15-16 per cent in eight years after the 2011 census. When we look at the declining rate of poverty, there will be no difficulty to reduce the poverty rate to 10 per cent in five years. I also want to add that the concept paper of the State has set a target to develop railways and develop Butwal-Bhairahawa, Tulsipur-Ghorahi and Kohalpur-Nepalgunj as economic centres.
Likewise, the State has a plan to develop five State level pride projects and set a goal to make the State self reliant in cereals, fish, milk, fruits and vegetables and export them. Besides, the concept paper has set a plan to attract over 2 million tourists in Lumbini.
The Commission has made an objective to allocate realistic and inclusive budget and enhance implementation capacity as well.
You said the State Planning Commission has identified 51 sectors. How are you moving ahead by coordinating with the State Government for the development of these sectors?
The State can achieve an important development in the sectors of agriculture, industry and tourism if these identified sectors are developed. But it is necessary to enhance capacity of the government and the private sector for this.
Every sector should realise that journey of development was pushed back due to lack of capacity to complete the projects in time.
We are forwarding the development model based on planning to achieve the goal of Prosperous State, Happy People’. We can achieve higher economic growth through balanced and sustainable development based on social justice.
The State government is going to adopt a strategic model between the public and private sector for implementing the periodic plan effectively. We have a national problem that we prepare plans but do not include them in the policy, programmes and budget. We will correct this by preparing and implementing successful plans. There is a need to adopt new economic system to realise the slogan of ‘ Happy People, Prosperous State’.
The State 5 government will go ahead leaving behind the industries and programmes run under the partnership of government and the private sector, which were not successful.
What will the State 5 be like in future?
The State can be developed as a model in the country. There are a few important projects and we have to work giving first priority to them. We are giving top priority to Naumure Hydropower Project of Arghakhanchi, Tinau-Kaligandaki Diversion and Bheri-Babai Diversion.
We will work in a planned way giving priority to the hydropower, forest, agriculture and tourism sectors as they possess huge potentials. We can move ahead by tackling the challenges for the development of the State made up of hills, mountains and the plains.
We have raised people’s hopes :Aryal
Are the federal, state and local level governments working in coordination with the private sector after the 2017 general elections? How is the situation?
After the general elections, the governments of all levels are pushing ahead people’s work. The federal, provincial and local level governments have been fulfilling their responsibilities as per their duties. However, we have also realised that the development works were not at par with the aspirations of the people. However, we have raised people’s hopes. The government works have received publicity. Same is the situation in the State and local levels. Still, the governments in all three levels sometimes seem to be confused. They are seen functioning in the traditional ways. When we talk about coordination, still we are realising a sort of lack of coordination with the private sector.
What types of support are the government agencies receiving from the private sector?
The private sector is supporting the local government. But the private sector thinks whether the local levels have failed to take the right path. Private sector has been providing many suggestions and recommendations to the local levels. The private sector can achieve the desired development and prosperity by working in coordination with the local levels. But the government bodies should also reciprocate the private sector. None reaches their destination in their single effort. Therefore, we are seeking government support. We also want to work in coordination with the State and local levels. But coordination of both the sectors is required.
How is the investment climate?
The first condition for investment is security. We want the government should create a suitable investment environment. But we have not realised that. The government have to provide assurance of security for investment. The first condition for investment is security. However, investors are not assured yet. The government has asked us to invest without having any iota of fear. But that is alone is not sufficient. The government do not have investment-friendly policy and programme. The government has not taken the private sector into confidence. Again, issue of good governance is equally challenging in Nepal. The government has not provided land for the investors even though they have shown their interest to invest. It has not expanded the existing industrial zones, which has delayed the establishment of industries. The industrialists have been discouraged and they are seeking a motivating role of the government.
How are local levels coordinating with the private sector?
There is a problem. Both local government and the private sector seem to be confused. Private sector has been discouraged by the tax policy of the local levels. That is not good. Employment will not be created in country without establishing industries. Therefore, there are high potentials of coordination between the private and government sectors. For example, Butwal Sub-Metropolitan City provided skill-oriented training to hundreds of youths of the city. Now, they are employed in private sector. It is a type of coordination. We should work together. But coordination should be in practice, not only in talks. The private is always ready for coordination and unity and to help create a friendly environment.
(This interview was prepared in Nepali by Deepak Gyawali, Chhabi Pandey and Laxman Poudel and was translated by TRN reporters Amarendra Yadav, Laxman Kafle and Manjima Dhakal)